skip to Main Content
Indie Authors And Literary Prizes And Awards: Advanced Self-Publishing Podcast With Orna Ross And Joanna Penn

Indie Authors and Literary Prizes and Awards: Advanced Self-Publishing Podcast With Orna Ross and Joanna Penn

In this #AskALLi Advanced Self-Publishing Podcast, Orna Ross and Joanna Penn explore the importance of literary prizes for self-publishing authors.

As authors we may not like to see books competing with each other, but as publishers we have to admit that winning the right award can bring credibility, kudos and readers to a book and greatly strengthen an author’s platform.

Ingram Spark logo

The Advanced Self-Publishing salon is brought to you by Specialist Sponsor IngramSpark. IngramSpark is the award-winning indie publishing platform that offers authors like you a way to publish your book and share it with over 39,000 bookstores and libraries worldwide.

Find more author advice, tips and tools at our self-publishing advice center, https://selfpublishingadvice.org. And, if you haven’t already, we invite you to join our organization and become a self-publishing ally. You can do that at http://allianceindependentauthors.org.

Now, go write and publish!

Listen to the Podcast on Literary Prizes

Don’t Miss an #AskALLi Broadcast

Subscribe to our Ask ALLi podcast on iTunes, Stitcher, Player.FM, Overcast, Pocket Casts, Spotify or via our RSS feed:

Subscribe on iTunes   Stitcher Podcast Logo for link to ALLi podcast   Player.fm for podcasts   Overcast.fm logo   Pocket Casts Logo  

Watch the Podcast on Literary Prizes

In this #AskALLi Advanced Self-Publishing #Podcast, @OrnaRoss and @thecreativepenn explore the importance of literary prizes for self-publishing authors. Click To Tweet

About the Hosts

Joanna Penn writes non-fiction for authors and is an award-nominated, New York Times and USA Today bestselling thriller author as J.F.Penn. She’s also an award-winning podcaster, creative entrepreneur, and international professional speaker.

Orna Ross launched the Alliance of Independent Authors at the London Book Fair in 2012. Her work for ALLi has seen her named as one of The Bookseller’s “100 top people in publishing”. She also publishes poetry, fiction and nonfiction, and is greatly excited by the democratising, empowering potential of author-publishing. For more information about Orna, visit her website: http://www.ornaross.com

Read the Transcripts on Literary Prizes

Joanna Penn: Hello everyone. Welcome to the Alliance of Independent Authors’ Advanced Self-Publishing salon with me, Joanna Penn, and Orna Ross. Hi, Orna.

Orna Ross: Hi, Joanna. Hello everyone.

Joanna Penn: Hello everyone. We are here, and today we are talking about literary prizes and awards, and how they relate to indie authors. This is a really fascinating topic and we will be getting into it soon, but before we do, remember we are writers as well, that’s what we do, so let’s just give a little update. So Orna, what’s going on with ALLi?

Orna Ross: Yes, we are writers and publishers, and there is also the Alliance of Independent Authors, and lots of going on as ever. We are running and some webinars with Apple books in the near future, so we’re just organizing that. Michael La Ronn, our outreach manager, is setting them up and we will be sending information out to our members about them shortly.

We’ll run two, to start with, and we’ll keep them going depending on demand, about 50 people will be allowed into each webinar, and we’ll do one Southern hemisphere, and one Northern hemisphere to start, and then we’ll see if there’s any more demand after that.

Essentially they are for people who are not familiar with the platform, who want to know how to publish their books there and how to get books moving there. So, it’s all part of the go-wide focus, non-exclusivity focus, that we’re running now over the next few months. We have a big post, the ultimate guide to going wide, on the blog today.

Joanna Penn: Can I just say on that webinar, it’s not just for new people. I went on one of those webinars about a month ago, and it will be the same webinar, and I got some tips and also, you know, it’s the relationships with Apple you need because it’s not public. So, if you go on one of these webinars, you’re going to get knowledge that none of us are allowed to share publicly.

So, as much as we would love to just tell you everything, that’s not our information to tell you. But if you go on one of these webinars, Apple will tell you, and then you have the information. So please go on these webinars. If you want to sell more on Apple, it is definitely worthwhile.

Orna Ross: Yeah, and as you said, the relationship is more important on platforms like Apple, which are curated by human beings. So actually getting to know the people who are there, and it’s Ian Wallace, who has done stuff with us before, but it has been a while since we’ve done one of the these. Also, just for members who are listening, we do also have a PDF guide in the member zone for Apple and Kobo, and lots of other services, Amazon, too.

So, if you’re looking for specific service guides, they are there, just navigate to the services and then service guides to find them. So, that’s going on, and we have our ambassador program.

We are seeking ambassadors in new territories. So, we have Michael, who has come in as outreach manager, and we’ve organized an organization membership for local and national organizations on the ground in different territories, and we’re looking for members, longish-term members who have been with us for a while who understand the ALLi way of doing things, to be a bit of a bridge between the indie community, us, and the local organizations, because we’re going to be talking about prizes today as our topic, and this is one of the things that we were talking about when ALLi was founded 10 years ago, you know, it was about literary prizes, open up to authors, please, and we haven’t done that particular thing. In lots of other things, we’ve made a lot of progress, but that’s an example of something where we haven’t, and I think we need to get together with the existing writers organizations to help push some of these things through that are really taking far too long.

So that is that, and the other thing we’re looking for from you people is proposals for Self-Pub Con, and we will have the link in the show notes for that, but it’s selfpublishingadvice.org/selfpubcon. So we want your proposals on the theme of writing craft. So, get those through to us if you have something exciting to share with people.

Joanna Penn: Fantastic. Well, I’m in finishing energy, kind of, difficult times when you just seem to send off one email to somebody formatting one thing, and then there’s another email coming from a beta reader, and then you have to upload this and upload, so it’s finishing energy, big time, How to Make a Living With Your Writing. The completely rewritten third edition will be out on the 15th of March, and I’m also narrating the audiobook and editing the audiobook and doing the paperback, large-print hardback, workbook, all the things, and I publish wide.

So, it’s a bit of energy that goes into this, but once it’s all up on all the platforms, it’s fine, but it is a lot of wrangling. I’m also doing a new book in German, so I’m wrangling beta readers for that, using DeepL, the AI, for the first draft and working with an editor, beta readers, and also, I’m doing the Matt Walker trilogy box set in eBook, paperback and audiobook. So, I’m trying to do all these things in March. Oh, and I did write a short story.

So, I’ll tell you what’s happened to me is I see the end in sight to being locked down. So, I’m determined to finish all this stuff on my plate so I can get out in the world again and go for a really big walk. So, I feel like I’m working really hard in March with the hope that in April we might be a bit more free. I might be completely wrong, but that’s what I’m hoping. So, what about you, Orna, what are you up to?

Orna Ross: Yes, not quite as much as all of that. The administration there just makes me want to curl up and die.

But yeah, lots of admin, because I’m too at the end of a lot of publishing projects, and there’s just a huge amount of it. I don’t have a very administrative mind, just getting the team together and getting all the ducks in a row.  And then on the other front, just back writing fiction in the mornings before the day takes off and just laying down words really and finding it slow. It’s funny, having stepped away from fiction for quite a while, I’m finding it’s a muscle, I need to, kind of, get fit again. So, speeding up a bit now, but that’s it really, writing and publishing.

Joanna Penn:  Yes, that’s the job.

Orna Ross: Trying to be a better writer and trying to be a better publisher. Same this month as every month.

Joanna Penn: Yeah, it is, but I think it is also cyclical, you know, I’m in this end of a cycle, finishing energy, and once that’s done, I have on my wall, I wrote a list of five books that I want to do next, and I’m thinking about them and things. So, I can see the creative energy ahead, and I think that’s really important for people. The only way to be a successful indie author is to, as you know, you talk about the different hats, the author, the publisher, the marketer, the business person, there’s so many hats, it’s fun, but it’s also cyclical.

Orna Ross: Yes, it is, and do remember to finish, before you start a new one. Don’t have all the open projects, do get through the finishing energy bit, because it can be really tempting, I’m not saying to you because you’re a great finisher, but a lot of us aren’t great finishers and it can be really tempting when that new project comes up and you’re dying to write it, to say, okay, well, I’ll do the publishing on the side and then it doesn’t quite happen.

Joanna Penn: There’s always something more fun than uploading books, that’s for sure.

Orna Ross: Absolutely, or moving commas about in the final proof, you know, is the proofreader right with this little fix here or, you know, all that.

What’s the difference between book awards, literary prizes, and competitions?

Joanna Penn: Anyway, let us move on to the topic of today which is, indie authors and literary prizes, awards, competitions, and all these things.

So, we’re going to start with a definition. So I, obviously, have been doing this a decade, but I was never in the publishing industry, as such, and Orna, you were in, or you’re still in, but you were in the industry in a much more embedded way. So, how do you define awards versus prizes versus competitions?

Orna Ross: Yeah, it’s difficult to actually completely break them down, and people use them interchangeably all the time. There isn’t a strict definition, but I guess a competition is the one that’s easiest to define in that, you enter a competition, always. Usually a competition refers to something smaller, so it might be for a book, but it could also be just for a short story, or it could be just for a poem or whatever.

When you get to what they call literary prizes and awards, you’re looking at things that you’re receiving for more of a long-term career, and you may be nominated if you have a publisher, you may be nomination by a publisher, and of course we are our own publishers and therefore, we nominate our books for awards.

A prize is something that you get for winning an award. So, the award is the recognition, the kudos and so on. And some awards are sufficient unto themselves, you know, just winning the award is the prize, if you like. But very often they come with actual prizes attached, financial, it may be residencies, education, you know, it can be lots of different things.

But when people talk about, The Booker Prize, for example, it is an award, it is a prize, it is a competition. It’s all three, and people will talk about it interchangeably, particularly prize and award, very hard to separate those two out.

Why are book awards, literary prizes and competitions important?

Joanna Penn: Okay. So, let’s face it, these are all gatekeepery type things, and I feel like part of being an indie author is about, sort of, blasting through the gatekeepers and getting out there and doing it yourself. So, why should we actually even care about these types of things because, let’s face it, most of them are judged by people in the publishing industry, most of whom are traditionally published, or are traditional publishers or people in the literary community as such.

So, why are prizes important?

Orna Ross: Well, it is completely legitimate to not go there at all, and in many ways, book prizes, it’s an invidious thing, you can’t compare two different books, really, and say one is better than the other. And there are all sorts of controversies about awards and prizes and why they are not to be taken that seriously.

So, it is a perfectly legitimate position to take, look, I just don’t do that. I left all of that submission and rejection thing behind when I went indie and I don’t go there, but there are lots of people.

You’re right about the better-known awards being still very much an establishment trade-publishing sort of world, but of course there are gazillions now of awards on the indie side, and there’s almost like two different types of awards, there are some very good awards and prizes for independent and publishing, but there are also some very bad ones.

And then you’ve got this world of prizes, which hasn’t shifted very much at all. I mean, some of the traditional prices have opened up to independent authors, but lots haven’t. So, why would you bother with them if they don’t want to bother with you?

One of the reasons why we were not seeing Indies winning traditional awards is Indies are not entering.

Joanna Penn: Or not allowed to enter, even.

Orna Ross: Well, in some cases, yes, but also, in some that have opened, we’ve had discussions with people, and they have said, look, we’re not getting the entries. And we have put out stuff before through our news columns and various things, and not seen entries.

So, you’ve got both of those things going on, you’ve got indies being not included because the rules specifically say it has to be published by somebody who isn’t the author, but you also have a situation where it is open, and Indies don’t enter. So, there is that, and why would you enter? So, why are why bother?

Joanna Penn: Sorry, from my perspective, I see, and I have entered, and I have been a finalist for the ITW award. Although, the indie authors really only entered the eBook original award, whereas you would never be able to enter the hardback, or you would, but you would never win because there’s slightly different things going on there. But in terms of a reader and the marketing angle, this is what I see. I see now, I shop on the Bram Stoker list, for example, I read horror and I love the Bram Stoker list, and I just go and sample pretty much everything on the Bram Stoker finalists list. The short list is still massive, it’s like 50 books, all kinds of things. And then also, I was thinking, what else do I shop on, specifically for me, the Financial Times business books, their shortlist, I will often read all the books on their short list, and those are non-fiction. And the other ones are like the Stanford’s travel awards, which is a bookshop-sponsored award.

So, I was thinking, a reason is the marketing that comes along, even with being on a short list. Of course, you mentioned rejection. It’s very hard to get and we’ll come to books that might get on things like that, but I do think that one of the reasons why it’s worth it is the potential marketing.

Orna Ross: Yes, definitely, and in some cases, a prize could be completely life changing.

Lionel Shriver wrote a lot about how winning the women’s prize for fiction with, We Need to Talk About Kevin, how that changed she was completely flat broke, she’d been writing for 12 years or something, nobody cared, her books didn’t go anywhere, she was going from one publisher to another because her books wouldn’t sell and she couldn’t get them to publish the second one, and then she wins this prize and then there’s a big movie, and everything is completely different.

So, that happens. And as you say, it can also, at a much more everyday level, give you a good marketing boost. So, it very much depends on the prize, and only certain prices have a discernible effect on sales. It also, from an indie author perspective, it can and make you more likely to be selected for a featured deal on a site like BookBub, and BookBub has identified that, definitely, a book having won an award gets more click through and just more engagement generally. So, it’s curation, isn’t it? In a world where we’re coming down with books, somebody, you know, a panel of people has said, this is a good book. So, it’s a mark of quality, and a lot of authors have an ambition to be an award-winning author.

Joanna Penn: Me.

Orna Ross: You, and lots of other people too, and it’s understandable. It’s completely understandable. So yeah, there are lots of reasons why you would want to do it and reasons why you might not want to, and either position is completely legit.

Why are book awards controversial?

Joanna Penn: So, let’s just talk a little bit about why prizes might be controversial. So, for example, you even mentioned the word good, which in itself is a controversial word, because was it, Eimear McBride, who wrote, I can’t remember the name of the book, but wasn’t it all one sentence, so it was very challenging.

Orna Ross: A Girl is a Half-Formed Thing.

Joanna Penn: Let’s call it challenging, and as you say, you win a prize because it’s a challenging type of book, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that people will say it’s their favorite book ever. So, sometimes these prizes, I think, can be controversial.

What are some other reasons why? I mean, well, okay, here’s another one there. The romance writers, there was a big thing about the RITA’s, I think, the fact that authors of color were just not there and just weren’t even seen, and often the judges are all of a certain type.

So, a lot of people aren’t necessarily heard, their voices aren’t heard or appreciated because they come from another worldview or culture or perspective.

Orna Ross: Absolutely. And I think this is one of the things, in the same way that prizes are not embracing Indies, they’re not using the power and potential that they have to actually elevate authors from different backgrounds, different voices. And there’s a lot of lip service to this, but it doesn’t tend to happen that often. I mean, for the very first time a woman of color won the British Book Award last year. Last year, first time ever, and the women’s book prize was born out of the fact that there were so few women on the major prize lists, and I remember that prize coming about and how important that seemed to women writers at the time.

So yeah, that’s definitely one reason, and there are no standards for judging aesthetics, and we see that in self-publishing all the time, you know, what pleases one group of readers will not please another. And in fact, sometimes, winning a prize can actually result in you getting a lot of bad reviews, because it opens up to readers who wouldn’t necessarily have found your books. And then, if somebody has said, it’s a great book and written a whole load of stuff, then you get a lot of reviews saying, don’t believe the hype, kind of thing, this isn’t any good. Because again, there is no absolute standard here, and there shouldn’t be, and there wouldn’t be.

So, yeah, there’s that whole aspect. And then, of course, as Indies, we need to be aware of the fact that lots of awards and prizes that are directed towards us are completely useless. They’re just a money-making scheme for somebody. An independent author gets an email saying, we’ve read your book and it’s fabulous, and we want to enter it for such and such an award, and the fee is such and such. And a lot of Indies are pulled in by this, finally somebody has recognized my book, and, again, completely understandable. They can seem extremely legitimate; they’ll have set up a nice website and it’s all there. So, we do actually have a page you can go to and look and see, if you do get one of those letters out of the blue, look and see if it is an actual legitimate award, or whether it’s just somebody who’s got a good money-making scheme going on.

So, yeah, that’s www.selfpublishingadvice.org/author-awards-contests-rated-reviewed

Joanna Penn: I think we need the URL in the show notes.

Yes, but I think it’s really important. And also, I think that, if you’re in a genre, so for example, I enter the thriller awards and I want to also enter the Bram Stoker, within horror.

I’m a member of the Horror Writers Association. I’m a member of the ITW, they are my genre organizations. And thus, I know and understand the competitions, I trust them. Neither of them are pay to enter, and they are usually peer judged by other authors. So to me, that’s actually recognition I crave, rather than, for example, I’ve been looking at short story awards, that’s what I’m looking at right now. So, for example, Bath has a very famous Bath short story award. And yes, I happen to live here, but also the Bath short story award is a well-known short story competition, and the Bridport for example, again, another one. If you spend more than five minutes Googling the people who might have won and have a look at the websites, and really just go a little bit further.

I mean, yes, the Alliance has a list, but it doesn’t have everything on it, especially like the short stories, for example, I went and had a look and not everything is on that list. So, you have to do your research into things, but you can also do it the other way round.

So, for example, I had this idea for a short story and I’m like, I want to put it in a competition instead of what I would normally do, which is just self-publish it.  I’m going to give it a go and enter a competition. So then I went looking for a list of short story competitions, and then I looked at the criteria, and looked at the ones and the dates.

So, I think that one tip is just to spend a bit more time identifying things. If that is one of your goals, think about it in a much more structured manner than like you say, if you get an email out of the blue, none of these prestigious or good competitions are going to be emailing you asking for this, but I would say the Bath short story award does cost to enter, it’s only about £12 though.

Orna Ross: Yeah, cost is not necessarily a measure, you know.

Joanna Penn: This is important.

Orna Ross: Yes, it’s not about how much it costs, that doesn’t really tell you anything, you need to know more. I would like to give a shout out to an ALLi partner member, bookawardpro.com, run by the lovely Hannah, and it is a service which will actually nominate, you know, do all the administration work for you for a monthly fee. And if you’re serious about wanting to win a competition, then you’re going to have to submit for more than one, and you do have to get kind of consistent about it.

So, either you’re going to work yourself, doing the admin with an admin assistant or whatever, but, Book Award Pro, they’re very tuned in to closing dates and what’s coming up when and what kind of book suits what award, and they’ve got a lot of expertise and they also respected by a lot of the indie awards.

So, if you’re thinking about taking it seriously, definitely take a look at them, but, yeah, we have a lot of authors who will say, and it costs such and such an amount of money, so it must be a scam, but actually some of the biggest rewards, I mean, if you are nominated for the Booker, you have to commit to spending £5,000.

Joanna Penn:  It’s more than that, I’ve looked recently. You have to commit as a publisher that you, I think, it’s £10,000, even if you’re in the shortlist. So, while you don’t have to pay to enter, you have to pay if you’re shortlisted, and then you have to pay more if you’re long listed. So, obviously you get the benefit of the potential sales off the back, but I think that’s really important, the fact that the biggest prizes, the most prestigious, you still have to basically pay to be part of, in the same way that you have to pay to be on the WHSmith bestseller list or on the front table at Barnes and Noble, or whatever, or all of these things.

So, as you said, it’s not so much the money,

Orna Ross:  It’s lots of other things and you will have to look and check it all out. And again, on the show notes, we’ll have a couple of links to some good lists that have plenty awards to keep you going for lots of time.

What literary prizes are open to indie authors?

Joanna Penn: So, what prizes are open to Indies, anything significant that you think is worth mentioning there?

Orna Ross: I think the Polari prize is definitely worth mentioning for a first book. I think also you were talking about the fact that, Indie having changed things a little bit, another award that didn’t exist pre-digital is the Goodreads’ Reader’s Choice, you’ve also got that kind of crowdsourced award, and it’s interesting that Indies show up there quite a bit, because it’s the readers, again, it isn’t the establishment. So, I think that is good.

An independent author did win the Booker prize, sorry, did get on the shortlist, didn’t win outright, but was on the shortlist many moons ago. She just, kind of, decided to do it. She died recently, actually; Jill Paton Walsh was her name. But it’s very possible to do it if you really want to do it. I think a lot of prizes, one of the reasons they say Indies can’t apply is they don’t want to deluge, that they simply don’t have the ability to turn it around. If they get a submission that fits the award, because that’s the other thing as well, awards are very genre based, and these literary awards are very often for literary fiction, and not just literary fiction, a very specific, it’s just like, it’s a specific kind of movie that wins the Oscars, it’s a specific kind of book that wins these prizes. So, you really need to do your research and make sure that your book does fit.

First of all, all of those things have to be right, you have to hit all of the submission details and things they say they want, and they want different things. So, the Amazon Storyteller Award, obviously is the big award in the indie space, £20,000 for the winner there, and that’s very much about story. It’s very, very, story-driven, it’s a very different kind of book that’s going to win Amazon Storyteller compared to the National Book Award, in the US or whatever, it’s not going to be the same thing kind of book. So, a bit of awareness in the same way that you need awareness as to where you position and place your book in the marketplace, you need a bit of awareness about what’s good for your book.

Joanna Penn: Yeah, both of us have obviously been on judging panels and, to me, it has to, I mean, you mentioned submission format. Like I said, I’ve been looking at all these short story things and goodness me, the detail of the submission format is, you know, very, very detailed.

So, you have to be very clear. For example, you can’t put your name on the thing, and you have to put certain things in certain areas, and if you don’t do that, then they just chuck you out immediately. So, that’s really important. But then also, for me, in terms of reading a lot of books submitted for prizes is, it can’t be book 17 in a series, because in genre fiction, that’s what we have, you know, I’m about to write book 12 in a series and look, to be honest, you’re pleasing your existing readership with a book in a long series. You’re not writing a book that you’re aiming to necessarily win a prize with.

And this is why I find this so fascinating; this might be wrong; I think a standalone book might have more chance of winning a prize in a genre than one in a series. Literary fiction is often a standalone anyway, so you can’t really compare it. But I was thinking for example, about the Bram Stoker, a perfect example of the genre was, Ararat by Christopher Golden, which won a few years ago. And I read this book and every single thing about this book, I think, was perfect in terms of being a perfect example of the genre, yet still original. That originality, that something different, it can’t be the 79th psychological thriller with a female first-person viewpoint, you know? They may sound nebulous, but when I’m thinking about submitting a book to something like the Bram Stoker, some of the books on my wall are standalone horror novels that I wouldn’t write for my thriller series. Does that make sense?

Orna Ross: Yeah, and I agree with you. I think, if you think about the judge reading, particularly if they’re a judge who knows nothing about your work, and very often for prize remember everything will be stripped away except the title. So, the title will be all that they have to go on. They won’t know who the author is. And the more the book is a perfect little piece of thing in itself, the better chance it has of winning. It has to be a really pleasing experience to read that book, and if it’s part of a series, it can work as a standalone within a series, but that’s not the same thing as something that creates a complete world beginning, end, over, nothing else to say, kind of thing. And you want, as a judge, you want that feeling of overwhelming satisfaction at the end of the read. And you’re right, the qualities that make a book stand out are nebulous, but you know them when you get them.

You feel it, it’s very, very obvious. I’ve judged a good few literary prizes now and most often it’s either unanimous or it’s down to two. People feel quite passionately and different, and very rarely in that, everybody’s divided up across the five or six that are on the short list, it’s usually one or two clear winners and you know it when you feel it.

Joanna Penn: I’ve only really done the sort of first-tier judging, which is done in a lot of these big competitions and prizes, where you have hundreds, sometimes more than a thousand, books to assess and then you pass them forward to judges like yourself who get the short-list.

Orna Ross: I only do the shortlists. I can’t do the big, long reads. Oh, no, I don’t have time.

Why you should volunteer to be a book award judge

Joanna Penn: Okay. Well, I wanted to say about this though, because I’m really glad, and I would urge people to, if you’re part of a genre organization, volunteer, because they always need people to do this first round judging, because it’s such hard work. It’s very hard work to assess hundreds of books in maybe six to eight months. It’s really difficult, but you very much get to see the standards of what’s going on in your genre and you get to learn what your taste is like, especially as a British woman, I find a lot of the time I’m the only Brit, and this is where taste comes in, and cultural taste is really interesting in these different things.

So, I think this is another thing, Indies who belong to these organizations, should volunteer to be part of the judging. And thus, you will get to know what’s going on and thus, we might have a better chance of winning more of them.

Orna Ross: Knowledge is power, absolutely. Yeah.

Joanna Penn: It is. But also on that, I would also encourage people because I see a lot of traditionally published books that are not great. So, it’s not like, oh, we can’t win because we’re indie and they’re traditional. That’s not it at all.

What should indies consider when entering literary prizes or book awards?

So, any other things that we want to tell people? Is there anything else that we should say about awards?

Orna Ross: I think, know why you’re doing it. I think it’s not like your average goal as a publisher, where there’s a clear outcome and you know what you have to do and if it’s important to you, it’s important to you and that’s a good enough reason to do it, but understand why it is important to you and what outcome you want, if it’s just to have that prize winning award winning or whatever on your sales page, fine or is there something more than that going on?

So, like everything, understand your goal, but understand that winning a prize isn’t an achievable goal in the same way as, I will get to the end of this novel, I will publish this book, you know you have control there, and you are entering a lottery and the vast, I mean, 99.9, 9% of the books won’t win. So, it’s in many ways, it’s out of your hands.

So, depending on how that makes you feel that might, that might make you feel, yes, it’s a challenge, I really want to do it, or it might make you feel no. If it starts making you feel bad about yourself then definitely stop.

Joanna Penn: Yes, but on the other hand, if you don’t enter, you can never win. And also, I kind of see it as a creative craft challenge.

Like I said, there’s this book that’s in my head that, I know a standalone horror novel is not going to sell me a ton of copies, but it might be something that I write from a craft perspective as a challenge to fit this different thing.  Like the short story too. So, that’s how I would encourage people to think about it.

Because look, if you enter a competition that doesn’t cost too much money and it is a good competition and you don’t win, you can still self-publish it. It’s not like you’re losing that book in any way, and maybe you’ll make the shortlist, maybe you won’t. So, I think that’s why, like you said, determine why you’re doing it, but also be strategic about what you want and what you want to enter.

And also, just don’t enter a romance novel in a horror competition. And if it’s hardcore sci-fi then don’t put it in a romance thing, or I wouldn’t put a genre book in a literary competition. You have to be honest and self-aware about your book, too.

Orna Ross: Definitely. But yeah, using it, as you say, to level up yourself, in a way, to elevate your own craft is a really good reason. And another thing that people do it for is deadlines. So, I have to finish the book by such and such a date, because I’m going to enter it in the competition. Even if it doesn’t win, it got the book out of you and that’s a good enough reason to do it as well.

Joanna Penn: Definitely pros and cons in this episode.

Orna Ross: Yes, it’s even more than most things, I think it’s personal decision.

Joanna Penn: Oh wait, I’ve talked about my ambitions. Are you planning on entering anything in particular?

Orna Ross: I’m actually working with Book Award Pro at the moment. Just putting a few out there, just seeing what happens, kind of thing. I’m interested in, I knew we were doing this show, and I was interested just to see what they do and how they do things. But also, I’m interested in that whole world and the way in which it is, kind of, dividing off, and also in the books that are winning. So, it’s another way of seeing what books are coming to the top of those prizes and what they share and stuff.

Joanna Penn: Ah, cool. Well, I’ll just answer a quick question from Melaena who says, is it okay to ask, is Joanna using a standing desk? Yes, she is. I always podcast standing up. Orna, you’re also standing.

Orna Ross: I’m also standing, yes, I am.

Joanna Penn: We are standing, and this is a part of the healthy author, when you’ve been sitting down at a desk for 25 years, having a standing desk is a good option, and it gets you your steps if you bob around a bit. So yes, I am. We both are. So yes, thank you for that.

What’s happening next month at ALLi?

Joanna Penn: So, next month we are going to do something that we’re pretty excited about, which is subscription models, because this is turning into a much bigger deal than, I think, authors think. Authors think this is coming, this is either KU or this is coming, yes, but it’s also already here. So for eBooks, we’re going to talk about the existing models for eBooks and audiobooks. We’re going to talk about the exclusive than non-exclusive. We’re going to talk about what might be coming further in the audiobook space. We can talk about libraries. We’ll talk about micro payments and payments for subscription. And most importantly, why you don’t need to be scared of subscription, and what you can do to level up any other income off the back of it.

So, this is something I’m very excited about and want more of, because consumers want it, and we want to be where consumers are.

So, anything else on that, Orna?

Orna Ross: Just everything you said, and you will probably hear a lot of doom and gloom about subscription, and that’s not coming from us. Exactly, not from us and we will explain why. If that seems kind of crazy to you, we’ll explain why, as usual, it’s all about strategy.

Joanna Penn: Yeah, absolutely. So, anything you want to share? What’s coming up on ALLi this month?

Orna Ross: We’d love to get your proposals in, and we’d particularly love if we have any good, longstanding members there who would like to work locally, particularly in Canada, Australia, South Africa, New Zealand, places like that, if you would like to do some work, and we’re talking about a very small number of hours per quarter. One meeting per quarter and a few hours a month given to ALLi, we would be super grateful, we would love to get that program going.

Joanna Penn: Fantastic. All right. Well, we’ll see you next month. So happy writing,

Orna Ross: and happy publishing. Bye-bye.

 

Howard Lovy

Howard Lovy is an editor and writer with more than 30 years of experience in journalism, from newspapers to magazines specializing in business, science, and technology. He has spent the past few years guiding coverage of independent publishing, amplifying voices of the marginalized. Howard is also a book doctor who enjoys working with authors to get their work ready for publication.

This Post Has 2 Comments
  1. Thanks for the transcript. I’m a reader and a writer; but not much of a listener. It goes in one ear and out the other haha.

  2. It’s awesome and great ideas that Podcast video and Transcripts in the same place! I think watching is the best (my own Opinion) without reading This transcript 🙂 Because, Joanna Penn and Orna Ross are friendly talking, So audiences can enjoy it. Before saying bye I want to tell Thank’s Howard Lovy 🙂 You have done a great job!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Back To Top
×Close search
Search
Loading...